Local artists are given the chance to showcase their creations and raise their profiles in the city through Hyatt Centric Center City’s Maker Series. The Maker Series encourages art lovers to not only enjoy the artist exhibits but also to come and meet the makers of the creations.
February’s artist of the month is Philly watercolorist, Joe Barker. A long time Philly resident, Barker has painted just about every landmark in the city including City Hall, The Comcast Building, Italian Market, and more. His goal is to take the gritty side of Philly and paint it a fairytale finish, hence the vibrancy in his colors.
Joe is not a new artist, no — in fact, he is very accomplished in the city. As told to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Former DA Lynne Abrams owns an original Joe Barker. And in 1989, the developer of the Rittenhouse Hotel even commissioned Barker to paint 99 watercolors of Philadelphia scenes, one for each of the hotel’s rooms, where they still hang. Many law firms and real estate brokerages in the city also are home to an original Barker watercolor.
Now 71, Barker was born in Alabama and has always had an affection for art. It wasn’t until he moved to Yonkers, NY and became a first time father did he get serious about his craft. It is said the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and in Barker’s case, this proves true. His son, was the late-great artist & rapper, DMX. Many people do not know this about Barker but yes, art in its many forms is something father and son had in common.
With the birth of Earl, aka DMX, Barker became serious about painting and struggled off and on to make a living from it. Early on in his career as a struggling street artist, Barker lost his family home and eventually moved to The City of Brotherly Love where he has been apart of the community for over 40 years. While DMX grew up in Yonkers and hustling on street corners to make it in the industry, Barker was hustling on street corners selling and surviving one watercolor at a time.
The road has not always been filled with strife. Barker experienced a stint of homelessness but was able to rebound. His artwork has landed in the hands of Fred Rogers and Martin Landau. His artwork was once featured in a Meridian Bank’s “Days of Hope” calendar, which raised $75,000 for unhoused people.
Today, he prefers individual commissions versus exhibits but was thrilled to paint over a dozen new watercolors especially for the Maker Series. Joe Barker’s art will be on display now until the end of February, a great way to celebrate art as well as Black History with a sprinkle of DMX. “I keep working,” Barker told the Philadelphia Inquirer, “I keep painting and I pray a lot. That’s just the way it is. It’s a constant hustle. There are no breaks. I just keep painting.”
Find the Hyatt Centric Center City at 1620 Chancellor St.